"Assemble the people: the men, the women, and the infants."
According to the book, Minchat Chinuch (mitzvah #414), even a new-born
is included in this commandment. We may understand from this that the
education of a Jewish child in Torah and mitzvot should begin on the day
he or she is born!
(Likutei Sichos) [translated from Sichat HaShavuah #301]
"Because my G-d is not in the midst of me, that these evils have
overtaken me." (31:17)
The Baal Shem Tov used to say that if one sees something bad in someone
else, it is a sign that an element of the same negative trait exists in
the person finding fault. It is as if one is looking into a mirror and
sees his own reflection. Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch added his interpretation
on this verse: "Because my G-d is not in the midst of me - because
my own face is dirty and my own connection to G-d and holiness is flawed,
"have these evils overtaken me" - that is why I find fault in
(From L'Chaim 890)
"And they will say that day : because my G-d is no longer with
me, these evils have befallen us." (Deut. 31:17)
Every Jew has to believe that G-d lives within him and that He is with
him in times of trouble, G-d forbid. It is only when his faith weakens
and when he starts to doubt whether G-d is with him-only then: 'these
evils have befallen us.'
(from Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Psischah) (translated from Sichat HaShavuah
They will say on that day, "Is it not because my G-d is not in
the midst of me" (Deut. 31:17)
This verse does not refer to one who denies that there is a Creator in
the world; rather, it refers to one who believes that G-d exists, but
that "G-d is not in the midst of me." He imagines that G-d exists
on so high a plane that He does not deign to intervene in our puny concerns.
G-d is an active participant in our lives and oversees every detail of
our daily lives. Our behavior should reflect our awareness of this.
"I will certainly hide (lit. "hide I will hide") My
face on that day." (31:18)
Twice "hide" because there will come a time at the end of the
exile when G-d's concealment will be two-fold. Not only will He be "hidden"
within the physical world, but His concealment will be so great that people
will cease to realize that anything is hidden! Nonetheless, there is no
concealment capable of separating the Jew from G-d. The same "I"
Who hides His face is the same "I" Who uttered the Ten Commandments,
and dwells in the heart of every Jew.
"Hiding" generally implies that we do not know where the other
person is. However if we know that the person is on the other side of
the obstacle, and it is merely that we do not see him, he is not truly
hidden. G-d is encouraging us: Even though I am not visible I am standing
(The Baal Shem Tov)
"And I, hide I shall hide
This can be interpreted, "I will hide the hidden." Chassidim
hide in poor, non-descript clothing, and people misunderstand and it never
occurs to them that in the least impressive appearance is hidden the source
of goodness and kindness.
Baal Shem Tov [translated from Sichat HaShavuah #456]
"You have been rebellious with G-d." (31:27)
It doesn't say "against G-d," but "with G-d." With
every improper thing we do we cause G-d to be a partner. This is especially
true when we do these things in the name of a commandment or turn a bad
deed into a commandment!
"Call heaven and earth to witness against them." (31:28)
They, the Jewish people, will be My witnesses, testifying that I created
heaven and earth. For it is through the Jews that the world comes to know
that G-d is the Creator and that He constantly oversees His handiwork.
Anxiously anticipating Mashiach actually accelerates his arrival. When
we become a living Torah, we facilitate fulfillment of the Torah's purpose,
namely, Redemption. This theme of unity, of oneness with the Torah can
be found in this week's Torah reading, Vayeilech. At the end of Moses's
life "the traditions and fountains of wisdom were closed" to
him. This indicated a transmission of leadership to Joshua. The central
attribute of Moses is truth, which defines Torah. Because of his unity
with Torah, affecting any part of Torah affected Moses as well. As Moses
was a living Torah, so Moshiach will be a living Torah. And to the extent
that we incorporate this, make ourselves a living Torah, we reveal the
aspect of Moses, the spark of Moshiach, within ourselves.
(Adapted from shluchim.org)
"On that day, Moses wrote down this song, and he taught it to
the Israelites" (31:22)
The Baal Shem Tov taught that when the Messiah arrives, he will explain
the entire Torah from the perspective of each and every letter, starting
from the first letter of the Torah to the last. Then he will join all
the letters together into one long Name of G-d and explain the entire
Torah from the total perspective. Meaning to say, first he will explain
the Torah according to the unique view of every individual, so that each
one will hear an explanation of Torah that rings harmoniously with the
root of his soul. Then he will join all the letters together, and reveal
the unity of the entire Jewish People through the Torah.
(Eliezer Shore-Bas Ayin)